First sentences when awake 1: “Where is Alan Road?”

I dream a lot. And I capture dreams. In contrast with many people I can recall my dreams for some time. That allows me to get inspired by the most wonderous stories that happen in my dreams. Most of my dreams have to do with traveling. Well actually almost all of my dreams. The explanation for that is that life for me is one big continuous process of change. Change I welcome and never am afraid of. It even drives me to write the way I do about the topics I choose. It makes me follow those dreams and makes me travel. As such my dreams are often the seed where new experiences and friendships derive from.

Being a dreamer is nothing like being unrealistic or a being out of reality. It merely is a mirror of my life combined with imagination, inspiration and experiences. My dreams tell me things I do not easily recognize when fully awake. They do change the coarse of my life and even the most important decisions in my life have been triggered by the subcontious reality of my dreams.

So I learned to value my dreams and to sometimes chase them. For me my dreams define me as a person and as an artist. As a writer.

Because of that I’ve been capturing the first sentence that pops in my mind as soon as I am waking up. I pen them down, for reference. It’s a way of capturing those dreams. Sometimes these sentences do not telle me that much, sometimes they explain themselves later. Sometimes much later. The moment I am really awake I try to spend half an hour writing down the dream I had based on that one sentence. And that way of handling my dreams sometimes brings me stories or poetry. Or the need to change someting in my way of life. I also log the time with that sentence that I pen down in those early hours. Somehow that seems important although I do not (yet) know why.

This morning’s sentence at 6.54 AM was: “Where is Alan Road?”.

Alan Road could of course be a road. But Alan Road wasn’t a road in my dream, it was a person. This Alan Road is someone I’m  searching for. I met him on a trainride from The Hague to London. He was a young man, a performer. A poet. He was on his way to perform in London in an old pub where they have poetry evenings where writers and poets come to listen to each other and enjoy each others company. Alan was a quiet man, I think around his thirties. With an unshaven face, like some guys think is looking cool. He was sitting there in the fast moving train quietly on his mental island. So was I. We didn’t talk at first.

It took us an hour before we exchanged words. He started first, I answered. We talked about how the landscape changes colour while traveling in a fast train. And how that seems like a film, a fast changing decor. Something that is not really out there but that’s projected. Alan started this game of imagining a world outside the train that was not real even though we were looking at it. I went along with him and we had a lot of fun thinking of all kind of situations and people inside that moving landscape. And what they did to each other, how the loved and cheated, what businesses they had and who killed who, where a little boy was about to be born and what that boy would later become. We envisioned people walking in the fields in northern France, hand in hand being romantic. And about a cyclist who tried to follow the train for a while abviously unable to keep up with us. Within mental minutes we were in Calais riding into to Channel Tunnel and quickly after that on our way on the English main land. We laughed a lot. Alan was a nice guy.

By the time we arrived at the trains destination we had exchanged phone numbers and plans for the coming days. I promised to come to his performance, somewhere in the Wimbledon area. So, a few days later I went there. There was indeed a poetry night going on in the Alexandra, the pub he told me to go to. He described the place accurately so I had no doubts. But Alan wasn’t on the program. I waited, searched, but didn’t find him. No Alan. Halfway the evening I asked a barkeeper wether he knew where Alan Road was. His answer was simply “Just around the corner miss, two blocks away.”

alan road

Only then I realized I had been in Alan Road years ago, to visit a friend who lived there. It must have been more than 30 years since, and I wonder why this place came back to me. I guess I’ll have to check it out someday or maybe another dream will explain this.

© Alice Anna Verheij

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Paradise lost, paradise found, paradise lost again…

Sometimes life just pushes someone to a change of environment. It is not strange that people like me in the west get fed up with the selfishness and the complexity of life in western society. The thing is that money dehumizes people to some extend. In such cases the desire for a simpler, less complicated life in which the basic things like eating, sleeping and understanding that nature and simplicity actually add to life in stead of subtract from it, is not strange.

‘Paradise?’ (photo © 2012 Alice Verheij – Kakani, Nepal)

For some people, the more sensitive and emotionally guided people, the west is not such a good place. Actually same goes for all urban environments likes cities and crowded towns. People like that thrive on the lonelyness of remote areas and the hardship that these areas bring to living. They are the wanderers, the travelers, artists, writers, photographers and filmers. They cannot stay in one place for long. The need change like they need to breath. When life settles down they emotionally die.

I am like that and only in recent years I have allowed myself to truly understand my own nature and my own desire to live a life traveling. I can’t help it. And on travels like that I experience the world difeerent. More positive, albeit sometimes also more dangerous. But my senses are challenged and by that I at last feel that I am alive. And when I feel alive and at the same time be of value to people who are experiencing difficulties, than my life is close to perect. Paradise is then something I will have found, not something I have lost.

Please don’t give me a stable home, please don’t fix me to a spot, please don’t ask me to stay anywhere forever. Because I know that of I would do so I would also lay my head down and breath my last. I would simply not live anymore. I am for all intences and purposes a traveler in search of Paradise. And sometimes I get a glimpse of it. Please let me lose that paradise so I can continue my search for only in the lost paradise I will find it again. It is just how it is, it is the only thing I cannot change in my life: the endless desire to be not here. To go without destination for my paradise is in the journey and nowhere to be found. I am a restless soul not destined to find what it is searching for but to continue searching until my final destination.

Alice © 2012

‘The Storm’ (2) or ‘Back Home?’

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Namaste my dear readers and friends. I wish you all a great New Year.

I Know, I know, I’m a bit late in doing that but as you know I’ve been away for a month to a region where modern technology is something that is not available constantly. And (I only dare to whisper that) I actually haven’t written much in that month. except for some love letters and the occasional FaceBook status update. But I’m back home. That is to say, my Dutch home for I have during my travel found a new home to live. A Nepalese heart where I feel loved and safe. I won’t reveal nor bother you with the details so let’s just say I’m hooked up with a wonderful nice woman who I love dearly. So I now have another ‘home away from home’ in the south of Nepal, the eastern Terai region to be exact.

The storm I wrote about last month has eased. The questions I had while leaving the Netherlands have been answered and many decision has been taken. The most important one being that I desire to lead a splint life. Half of it (or more) in Nepal, half (or less) of in in the Netherlands. The rest is just the execution of that desire. On the flight back the most vivid sign that such it a good decision is that we faced heave storms over de middle east making the flight slow and the flight time long. We faced ‘headwind’ while returning from the last shooting trip for my film ‘Headwind’. Actually, OUR film ‘Headwind’ as the positions in the production team have changed. Making ‘Headwind’ is no longer my personal task and responsibility, it has become a group thing now with a co0directing producer and a co-pruducing director.

Our trip to Sikkim to shoot mountain footage and travel through the earthquake struck area of the south central Himalayan state of Sikkim has been successful. We’ve also seen the teagardens of Darjeeling and the mists over Pokhara. We visited the now familiar places in Kathmandu, Patan, Pashupatinath and Boudha and travelled by bus, mini taxi, tourist taxi, airplanes, four wheel drives, local busses and riksha’s. We revisited the refugee camps near Damak, the now abaondoned and somewhat spooky Goldhap camp and we talked to and interviewed many. We visited the ex hunger strikers in Beldangi who have risked their lives for the unregistered people in the camps. We stayed at the farm of my love just outside Damak village in between the now still empty rice fields in between fields of amber colored mustard.

And we never had any disagreement or quarrel. Everything happened just like it should. We delivered financial aid to vulnerable non registered, brought media equipment to motivated and eager journalists in the exiled community and brought the photo’s from our exhibition (the one in the Netherlands) back to where they originated. And it all went well.

So here I am in my European home. Feeling happy with what we did living in anticipation of the next few months in which the film will finally become reality. Feeling sad about the love that I had to leave behind (but will see again soon). Making plans for the next journey, the publication of a number of books within three months and feeling dislocated as my heart is still out there.

In the coming months the following results will finally come from the project I started almost one and a half year ago:

  1. the English language novel ‘Headwind, Laxmi’s Story’
  2. a photobook about elderly people in the Himalaya‘s
  3. a photobook about the Bhutanese exiles living in diaspora
  4. the documentary ‘Headwind’
  5. a photo exhibition about resettling in the Dutch community
  6. a cd with music from the film
    and many, other things…

It’s going to be a busy time. After that time I will travel back to Nepal and God willing stay there for five months to live with my love and to promote and sell the results of our work. To show the film to the people who have become my inspiration and are part of it.

For now I’ll just focus on the work. Writing here will be less intense as it has been last month simply because of all the things I have to do for the project that not only produces these wonderful things and art but that has also changed my life and the life of some others working on it.

For the record: we’ve produced almost twelve thousand photos this journey, seven hours of footage and millions bits of memories. So much happens when filming and so memory memories build upon each other. In the end it feels like an epic journey and maybe that’s what it was.

So, namaste my dear western friends, I’m back. For a while. And for my eastern friends I can only say ‘pheri bethaula’.

Alice © 2012